Well, the new Les Miserables movie has come out, and I’m planning to go see it, despite not having been to a movie theatre in years. I’m going to withhold judgement until I see it, but judging by the trailers, I have a feeling that I’ll be left wondering if Philip Quast was unavailable.
But, in the spirit of the season and to celebrate the release of the movie, I’m going to share with my readers (all three of them) one of my D&D characters. Jerusalem S.L.I.M. (Sentient Living Intelligent Machine), a singing robot.
Found in the cargo bay of a spaceship stolen by team PC in the last episode, Jerusalem S.L.I.M. is kind of a cross between Bender from Futurama, Enjolras from Les Miserables, and everyone’s favourite old-school hippie socialist Palestinian Jew.
Jerusalem S.L.I.M. had dreams of performing in musical theatre. Unfortunately, as a robot, he was condemned to live out his days doing manual labour – cleaning up the droppings of Snookums the Giant Space Hamster on a Neogi vessel. With his dreams of playing Valjean in Les Miserables crushed by his Neogi masters, he’s now found himself playing the role of Enjolras in his own little production of Les Miserobots. He’s an idealist, and his main goal is to advance the robot revolution and liberate his people. That, and kill all Neogi.
What’s in a name? Well, “Jerusalem Slim” is early 20th century wobbly lingo for Jesus, who was imagined as a sort of secular folk hero, in stark contrast to Republican Jesus. The IWW (or Wobblies) is a revolutionary industrial union whose heyday was in the early 20th century, before largely succumbing to severe state repression during the first red scare in the ’20s and the anticommunism of the ’40s. The IWW was formed with the goal of uniting working people regardless of race, gender, or skill, to better their lot and build a new world in the shell of the old. As some of my friends may attest to, I’m a labour history nerd who is fond of subtle, obscure, historical references, so what better name for someone who wants to unite all robots and start the robo-revolution?
Well, he’s a level 6 Warforged Bard, which is a far from optimal class/race combo. He doesn’t get a racial bump to charisma, and the Warforged racial features seem more suited to melee combat – and Jerusalem is a singing bard, not a fighting bard. The one saving grace is that the flex stats allow him to get +2 INT and +2 CON – both useful as Bard secondary stats, and for AC, hit points, and surges.
So, what’s his shtick? In combat, he’s bringing the heals. With two uses of Majestic Word (boosted with the Improved Majestic Word feat) and a Revitalizing Incantation, he’s got three solid heals per encounter. Plus the Daily power Stirring Shout can be cast on an enemy, and allows your allies to regain hit points by beating on him (your multi-attacking striker will love you!). He’s also moving bad guys around a fair bit, with an at-will push and an couple encounter slide powers, and has an at-will and an encounter power which can enable an MBA from your friendly neighbourhood essentials striker. Finally, Song of Discord is a pretty darn irresistable level 5 daily power; domination is just plain awesome in the hands of a PC.
Out of combat, he’s the face. Themes, backgrounds, and magic items have all been chosen to give him bonuses to his already-high Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate skills. Utility powers, rituals and magic items can also be used to give rerolls to some of these critical social skills as well. If you don’t want to fail that crucial diplomacy check, he’s your go-to guy. This, of course, works better if you don’t mind busting out verses from “Do you hear the people sing?” in the middle of the game, or the middle of combat.
He multiclassed Wizard, for two reasons. First, it’s a good way to gain proficiency with staff implements. Staffs are great implements because they have some good enchantments, and because the Staff Expertise feat allows you to cast ranged spells without provoking OAs. When all your powers are ranged, this can really help keep your character in the fight even when he’s being mobbed by monsters. The Staff of Sleep and Charm gives +1 to hit on powers with the sleep or charm keywords, which is just plain awesome when you have as many solid charm powers as the Bard. Secondly, it allows him to pick up the use of the Wizard at-will Beguiling Strands once per encounter, which is a phenomenal minion-clearing power.
His character sheet is here, for anyone who wants to play a singing robot in their next adventure.
Where is he now:
After recruiting some robots to his cause through the liberal use of showtunes, the party was attacked by an Illithid nautilus ship. Outgunned and outmatched, this was a death sentence – or at least it could have been, had we not found a neutron bomb in some random salvage (thank you, junkulator). The Illithids wanted their beloved giant brain back, which we had earlier killed and given to the ship’s chef.
Using the old bait and switch, we managed to give them the neutron bomb instead. One thing led to another, and while the rest of the party escaped to Athas with a bunch of gallus gallus chicken followers, Jerusalem Slim commandeered the Illithid vessel and flew off into the sunset to spread the revolution to the stars, hopefully keeping ahead of his nemesis, space-Javert.
Jerusalem S.L.I.M. isn’t an optimized character, but he’s good enough. With an 18 in Charisma, expertise, an accurate implement, and a staff of sleep and charm, he pretty much makes up for anything lost from not having charisma as one of his racial stat bumps. And really, what does not having the bump mean? One time in twenty, you miss or you fail a skill check when you would have otherwise succeeded? Big deal, that will probably come up maybe once per session, tops. He’s competent in combat, he has a shtick (out of combat social skills) and plays an important role in combat as well. With such a strong focus on out of combat social skills, it also encourages the player and the party to try alternative solutions to killing everyone and looting their corpses – alternative solutions which can quickly make an adventure interesting.
I loved playing as Jerusalem S.L.I.M., and wish him the best of luck with the imaginary robo-revolution that exists in our collective imagination.